Take note Androscoggin Valley Community Orchestra concert will feature works by Edouard Lalo, Brahms, Mozart


Lewiston High School senior Daniel Rand will perform as soloist.

LEWISTON – For quality and value, it’s hard to imagine anything to top a concert by the Androscoggin Valley Community Orchestra.

The spring concert of this highly respected volunteer organization is coming up Saturday, May 13, at the Olin Arts Center on the Bates College campus.

Heading the program will be Edouard Lalo’s “Cello Concerto in D Minor” featuring Lewiston High School senior Daniel Rand as soloist. This piece is the French composer’s only cello concert. Written in 1876, it was inspired by Camille Saint-Saen’s “Cello Concerto in A Minor.”

The opening prelude is a call-to-arms with a poignant style and flair. The first movement that follows is highly energetic and passionate. However, the second movement is a more dream-like reverie, though in “Andantino” (still part of the second movement), the piece returns to a faster-paced tempo. The third movement begins with a soliloquy of the cello and ends with a dazzling finale.

Also on the program is Johannes Brahms’ “Variations on a Theme by Haydn” and Mozart’s ” Jupiter Symphony.

Barbara Oliver, longtime cellist with the Androscoggin Valley Community Orchestra, said Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, known as the “Jupiter Symphony,” was chosen in recognition of this year’s 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth.

Though “Jupiter” is not the title Mozart gave his composition, the symphony carries an Olympian weight to it, marked immediately by the boldness of the first movement. A remarkable characteristic of this symphony is the five-voice fugato (representing the five major themes) at the end of the fourth movement.

It is said that the finale represents one of the greatest examples of development in music. It starts with four simple notes and transforms into one of the most complex pieces of music of all time with an incomparable fugal coda.

“The Brahms piece is probably the most challenging part of the program for the orchestra,” Oliver said. Alicia Gamow of Greene is guest soloist on piccolo. “Variations on a Theme by Haydn” also features trombone solos by Margaret Berry and Robert Libby.

The theme of “Variations” begins with a repeated 10-measure passage which itself consists of two intriguing five-measure phrases, a quirk that is likely to have caught Brahms’s attention. Almost without exception, the eight variations follow the phrasal structure of the theme and, though less strictly, the harmonic structure as well.

The culmination of the piece is a restatement of the chorale – a moment of such transcendence that the usually austere Brahms permits himself the use of a triangle.

Recent scholarship has revealed that, despite the title of the work, the theme is unlikely to be by Haydn. While current usage still prefers the original title, “Variations on the St. Anthony Chorale” is the name favored by those who object to perpetuating a misattribution, but even that name tells little. To date, no other mention of the so-called “St. Anthony Chorale” has been found.

Dr. Bruce Condit will play tympani for all the pieces on the program, Oliver said.

Also performing in the orchestra’s violin section will be Greg Boardman, founder of the Androscoggin Valley Community Orchestra about 12 years ago. Its volunteer membership includes doctors, lawyers, bankers, teachers, preachers, students and many other occupations.

The group has played under the baton of Paul Ross for the past four seasons. Besides conducting the AVCO, Ross is cellist with the Portland String Quartet, conductor of the Brunswick Regional Youth Orchestra and the Kennebec Valley Community Orchestra, and a member of the music faculty of Colby and Bowdoin colleges.

He has been principal cellist with the Robert Shaw Chorale, Quebec Symphony, Florida Symphony, Boston Opera and Boston Ballet. He has also performed with the Boston Symphony, the CBC Radio Orchestra and the Boston Pops. His awards include the Gold Medal at the Canadian National Exhibition.

Ross studied at the Toronto Conservatory of Music and went on to receive a performance degree in cello with a sub-major in conducting from the Juilliard School. He has been awarded an honorary doctorate in music from Colby College.